Still gaining experience ...
Marty Musella and Steve Miller try
with Steve winning the opportunity to fight another
Lloyd Richards gets a tough draw in
who has yet to lose in this event at WBC.
Russia Besieged continued its slow increase in popularity,
garnering its largest field yet. There was also a good turnout
at the Demo and eight new players entered the tournament. The
Mulligan Round again proved popular with eight games being played
Wednesday evening and six more in Round 1 Thursday morning. The
seven-turn scenario ending in May / June 1942 was played with
the 2nd edition rules, charts, and OB Cards (July 2009) being
used again. Playing time was tracked for the first time with
the average game taking about 4.3 hours.
Sides were determined by mutual agreement or by bidding Victory
Points with replacement points used as a tiebreaker. The VP bids
ranged from 18 to 20 with the average bid being 19.3. The most
frequent bid was 19 which was also the default number of VPs
required. The number of VPs bid increased with the perception
that the Germans have a slight advantage now at 19 VPs. Play
balance was very close with the Germans winning 52%. After Round
1, the Germans won five games to the Russians four. In one notable
Mulligan Round game, the players each bid 20 VPs for the Germans
with the tiebreaker being decided by 1 RP. Two of the Round 1
games were extremely close and had to be adjudicated. Bob Bassin
and Dennis Culhane both played well in their Round 1 games. Steve
Miller and Bob Bassin enjoyed their game so much that they had
a rematch Friday afternoon.
Charles Drozd, Charles Catania, Richard Beyma, Steve Miller,
Michael Cardwell, Lloyd Richards, Jim Eliason, Marty Musella,
Joe Collinson, Lembit Tohver, Art Lupinacci, and Rob Beyma all
advanced to Round 2 Thursday afternoon as two other eligible
winners withdrew. Richard Beyma's blitzkrieg overran Joe Collinson's
Russians in 1941. Art Lupinacci overwhelmed newcomer Lloyd Richards'
Russian defense. Rob Beyma, playing the Russians, stopped Lembit
Tohver's offensive. Jim Eliason, playing the Germans with an
18 bid, defeated Michael Cardwell. Michael's Russian play showed
significant improvement since 2009 enabling him to reach Round
2 for the first time. Charles Catania overcame a strong German
attack from newcomer Steve Miller with the help of Mud / Snow
in Nov / Dec 41 and Snow / Lt Mud in Mar / Apr 42.
Two more players dropped out, leaving four semi-finalists
for Round 3. Pairs were selected randomly by die roll. In the
first semi-final, Art and Rob each bid 19 for the Germans. However,
Rob won the tie by bidding some extra RPs for the Russians. Art
had lost twice before to Rob in the Final playing the Germans
so he wanted to win with the Russians this time. In Art's own
words "Rob spent a tense 40 minutes studying my defense
and then took it apart like a raccoon looking for left over steak
in a plastic garbage bag". The Germans killed 18 units on
Turn 1 and trapped six more. German infantry captured Minsk on
a 5-1 second Impulse attack (1-1 plus four Stukas). Rob made
one significant mistake on Turn 1. He miscounted and allowed
Art to get a 2-1 (+1) attack to get three units near Lvov back
in supply. Rob added a Field Marshal to make it a 2-1 (E). A
'1' roll sealed the fate of the trapped units. Art defended around
Veliki-Luki and the Dnepr bend to keep the German armor from
moving too deep into the Russian rear on Turn 2. Rob saw an opportunity
in the center and made a 7-1 Blitz attack versus a 6-4 army while
staging a couple of Stukas to Veliki-Luki. A Field Marshal was
added to make it a 7-1 (+2) attack. An 8 or higher roll (a 30%
chance) would have enabled a 7-1 attack on Moscow (defended only
by the WEC) on the second Impulse. However, the roll was less
than an 8 so Rob had to be content to eliminate all of the remaining
units around the Dnepr bend. In the south, the Germans captured
Kiev and advanced towards Dnepropetrovsk. Art defended forward
on Turn 2 trying to deny the Germans an opportunity to capture
key WEC cities on Turn 3.
The Germans got Clear weather in Sep / Oct and continued to
maul the Russian army. The Germans captured Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk.
Art tried to defend the remaining objectives with a seriously
weakened Russian army and hoped for Snow in Nov / Dec. There
was a 40% chance of Snow in November with the +1 weather DRM.
However, the Germans rolled Lt Mud / Snow. The Germans advanced
on all fronts and attacked every Russian unit that they could
get a 3-1 or better against. At the end of the German turn, Rob
had his VP bid in hand and the Russians had no army. Art conceded.
The Germans got off to a good start on Turn 1 and it snowballed
the rest of the game. In addition, the Germans had favorable
weather rolls. Art is already preparing for next year.
In the other semi-final, Jim Eliason and Charles Catania both
got to play their preferred sides. Charles got the Germans at
19 VPs. "The Professor" got off to a good start eliminating
a lot of Russian units on Turn 1. Jim formed a defensive line
in the south behind the Bug river with the help of a couple of
survivors from the Kiev MD. Charlie cautiously advanced on Turn
2 and assaulted Kiev during the second Impulse but did not capture
the city. More ominously, the Germans did not take Odessa either.
The Russians defended the south strongly on their second turn.
The Sep / Oct weather rolled resulted in neutral Clear / Lt Mud
weather. The Germans captured Smolensk, Kiev, and Odessa on Turn
3 but did not kill enough Russian units. The Russians had a strong
army and still controlled Leningrad and Dnepropetrovsk at the
end of Turn 3. A Lt Mud / Snow weather roll in Nov / Dec, while
"average", wasn't good enough. Charlie conceded on
Turn 4. The Russian winter counteroffensive was going to be very
The Final was a re-match of the 2008 championship game. This
time Rob took the Germans for 19 VPs, both players getting to
play their preferred side. Rob got an Automatic Victory against
a couple of units in the Western MD to break through east of
Brest. Rob again took Minsk in the second Impulse for the second
straight game. However, Jim had a very good Kiev MD defense and
a couple of units survived. A flipped Mech corps also survived
a failed 7-1 Blitz attack in the north. Rob also used about 45
minutes of his clock time on Turn 1. Jim ran away in the north
but defended heavily in the south.
There wasn't much for the German panzers in the north to kill
on Turn 2 but Rob noticed that two of his panzers could just
barely get across the Luga during second impulse. So, two panzer
corps were dispatched to the Leningrad front and the rest to
the center (Smolensk and southwest of Smolensk). The Germans
cleared Odessa on a 3-1 and moved up for second Impulse attacks
on Kiev and the Dnepr. Kiev fell on a 4-1 attack and a 6-1 Blitz
attack advanced across the river. The Russians defended Leningrad,
Moscow, and the key WEC cities in the south. Interestingly, Jim
deployed a very strong Russian defense around Kursk. Besides
making Kursk difficult to capture, it took Voronezh out of play.
Rob's good fortune with the weather rolls continued on the
Sep / Oct turn with Clear / Clear weather. Time was beginning
to become a factor with Rob only having 75 minutes (half of his
time) remaining for the last five turns. Rob decided to make
a major effort for Kharkov on the second Impulse. The Germans
attacked Leningrad at 4-1 and went on defense in the center.
After some indecision as to what to do with the panzers in the
south, the Germans hit a lone 7-4 near Kursk at 3-1 (+1) and
Dnepropetrovsk at 4-1 (E). The attacks at Leningrad and Dnepropetrovsk
were successful but did not clear the cities. Thus, the attacking
German units were stuck on second Impulse. Six panzer and one
infantry corps, supported by three Stukas assaulted Kharkov at
5-1 (-1) surrounded. Rob tossed in his last Field Marshal and
Jim tossed in Zhukov. A fortunate (for the Germans) '8' roll
resulted in a DE and allowed the Germans to advance into the
city. Jim is a resourceful and aggressive Russian player. Even
though Rob had calculated that the Russians "could not"
get a 1-1 attack versus the panzer stack one hex south of Kharkov,
Jim found a way. A unit from Kursk made it down there for a 1-1
surrounded counterattack. The Russians also came out of Kursk
and made a 2-1 attack against a hex defended only by a single
panzer corps and the SS Polizei unit. The Russians won the big
1-1 with a BR result and also won the 2-1 attack. During second
Impulse, the Russians repeated the 1-1 surrounded attack and
won it big with a D1 result. After retreating through a friendly
occupied hex, all three panzer corps were flipped. The Russians
flipped one Mech corps.
At this point, the "weather gods" deserted the Germans.
Another way of putting it was the weather rolls evened out. The
weather for Nov / Dec was Snow / Snow. Even though the Germans
had 21 VPs, the Russian army was strong and had two turns of
snow ahead in which to counterattack. The Germans counterattacked
near Kharkov to secure their defensive positions and screened
the open ground between Bryansk and Kharkov. The Russians placed
a WEC in Kursk to replace another Mech corps on that front. The
best units in the Russian army descended on Bryansk from three
directions like a pack of hungry wolves. The Russians had success
on their first Impulse attacks save for a 1-2 (-1) soak-off in
the forest. The third Russian Mech corps (that was replaced in
Kursk) enabled a 1-1 (E) versus the lone German panzer corps
behind Bryansk. Rob was regretting not placing two units here.
At this point, the Russian combat dice cooled off with both the
1-1 on the panzer unit and a 1-1 on Bryansk being repulsed.
Rob took advantage of the respite in the Russian advance on
the Bryansk front to shore up the defensive positions on that
front during Jan / Feb. A flipped Italian infantry was left in
front of the main line to absorb the Russian first Impulse attack
directly east of Bryansk. The remaining German infantry in the
center clung to the hexes just east of Smolensk. A single 4-5
flipped infantry unit garrisoned Smolensk. Rob screened the rear
(or so he thought) against a Russian paratroop drop. However,
Jim found a hex just behind Smolensk to drop his paratroopers
and set up for a major assault in the center on second Impulse.
Additional Russian troops were hitting Veliki-Luki at 1-1. During
second Impulse, two paratroopers moved forward to attack Smolensk
at 1-1. Jim tossed in Zhukov and Rob countered with Mainstein.
If the Russians had won the 1-1 at Smolensk, the German units
in the front line would have all been halved for the upcoming
Russian attacks. However, Rob's luck held and the 1-1 attack
was repulsed enabling Rob to resume contemplation of his fifth
Jim conceded at the end of Turn 5. At this point, Rob still
had 21 VPs as well as a -2 weather DRM heading to Mar / Apr.
Jim thought that it was quite likely that the Germans would pick
up Stalino on Turn 6 or 7. It was a close, hard fought game.
The Russian winter offensive was scary. The Russians almost re-captured
Bryansk and Smolensk.
Art and Charlie played another game for third place. Charlie
once again got the Germans at 20 VPs. The Germans got off to
a good start on Turn 1 and closed to within striking range of
Leningrad and Kiev on Turn 3. However, a couple of misplaced
Stukas and a couple of low rolls in key attacks dashed the German
hopes. A Mud / Snow weather roll in Nov / Dec put the freeze
on any hopes that Charlie had for third place this year.
Russia Besieged is one of the few hex wargame events to grow at WBC.
Charles Catania and Art Lupinacci
tangle as Phil Evans checks out the game.